Director: Sanjay Gupta
Cast: John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi, Kajal Aggarwal, Prateik Babbar, Mahesh Manjrekar, Amole Gupte
Released in cinemas.
Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta’s filmography features mostly gangster films. Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007) which Gupta co-wrote and co-produced remains the best film coming from his vision. Gupta is a genre filmmaker and most of his movies are inspired by other movies and/or adapted from books. Would have liked to see him redefining the genre in his latest flick Mumbai Saga. But the multi-starrer looks more contrived than organic. It lacks the lived-in thrill of, say, Shootout At Lokhandwala or the swag of Kaante (2002 film inspired by Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs).
In Mumbai Saga, Gupta uses done and dusted camera angles (DOP Shikhar Bhatnagar) and corny background score (Amar Mohile) to tell a story based on true events which fails to get your attention. There’s substance for sure, but the film has nothing new to offer.
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Mumbai Saga tells the story of Amartya Rao (John Abraham), a commoner-turned-gangster. In one scene Amartya doesn’t want to get involved with the goons looting the vegetable vendors for ‘hafta’. After his brother is attacked by one of the goons, (couple of scenes later) he chops the goon’s fist. Still okay, given it’s a movie. Amartya wants to protect his younger brother Arjun (Prateik Babbar) from the bloodshed. So he sends him to London for further studies. You assume, later in the film, these sacrifices will be recounted by Amartya, and they are.
Amartya’s girlfriend who later becomes his wife Seema is surprisingly okay with him becoming a gangster. An annoyingly cheerful Kajal Aggarwal hams as Seema. Amartya is taken under his wings by Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar), a character modelled on a popular political leader of the times; probably of all times. Bhau controls everyone – the gangsters and the police. And he pits two of his flamboyant lads – Amartya and Vijay Savarkar (Emraan Hashmi) against each other. There’s some finely done dialogue-baazi, but a faulty screenplay couldn’t save this saga.
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None of the actors impress. John Abraham tries hard to become a brooding gangster but his limitations as an actor surface when he has to raise his performance not just voice. Prateik Babbar, an otherwise reasonably good actor, is wasted in Arjun’s role. Mahesh Manjrekar and Amole Gupte give their sincere best to their characters but we have seen them doing versions of these characters before. For some reason there’s one Gaitonde in all crime circles of Mumbai in Hindi films. Emraan Hashmi’s police officer does not have any layer or depth either. Shaad Randhawa and Rohit Roy play the regulars as gang members. Gulshan Grover plays a laughable caricature Nari Khan. Suniel Shetty is credited with a special appearance, but his solitary scene doesn’t stand out.
The film’s action shows some spark, especially the fight between Abraham and Hashmi in the restroom of a nightclub. This superb action scene makes you forget the forced and completely irrelevant Yo Yo Honey Singh track before.
Watch Mumbai Saga trailer here:
To give the credit where it’s due; must applaud the producers’ efforts to release the film in cinemas when most are taking the secured OTT route. Mumbai Saga was partly shot during the Covid-19 pandemic and the patch work shows. Could have overlooked that factor, but there’s nothing else to look at. Expected a film that lives up to its grand title Mumbai Saga. Disappointed. Wear a mask if you’re willing to watch the film in theatres.